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Iraqi Reehan Basil

Ocimum basilicum

Grown by: Experimental Farm Network in Elmer, NJ

  • $5.00

Click here to be notified by email when Iraqi Reehan Basil becomes available.

These gorgeous plants somewhat resemble Thai basil or tulsi with a strong basil flavor with notes of anise and an irresistible fragrance, even in the field.

The following description comes from Experimental Farm network:

This basil was originally collected in Baghdad's Sadr City at a local market called Al-Mustafa Market. It is traditionally included in a plate full of fresh herbs that are served as a side dish to an Iraqi meal. The Arabic word for basil is "reehan" or "rehan," which comes from the root-word for "smell," referring to its flavorful scent. (The prolific pop singer Rihanna’s name is actually derived from this Arabic word for basil!)

We know we still have a lot more to learn about this variety, such as where it was or is traditionally grown in Iraq, when basil became popular in Iraq, and how else it's traditionally used, but we and our colleagues in the Iraqi Seed Collective are hopeful that by making it available here we might get some more answers soon. We believe it's likely this basil was grown both for its leaves and its seeds (which it produces in profusion). Basil seeds can be prepared and eaten much like chia seeds, forming gelatinous balls after immersion in water. There's a history of them being used in the region in desserts.

Days to maturity: 60-70

Seeds per pack: 25

Germination rate: 86% on 12/01/2022

Planting / harvesting notes

Sow seeds on the surface of moist potting soil and keep it evenly moist and in the sunlight until germination. Start indoors, and later transplant in full sun 10-12" apart. Continually harvest - this plant is a vigorous grower in warmer months.

Seed keeping notes

Allow seedheads to dry on the plant. Cut the stalks below the lowest seed clusters. If necessary, dry the seedheads further in the sun on a sheet or table away from moisture and precipitation. When fully dry, whack the seedheads in a bucket, allowing the ripest seed to fall. Sift through strainers to remove the largest chaff, and then winnow off the lighter chaff with your breath, a fan, or the wind.


This product is part of the Seeds of the Levant.

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